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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 39, Issue 4, December 2016

Brian Besong
Pages 401-412
DOI: 10.5840/teachphil2016112256

Teaching the Debate

One very common style of teaching philosophy involves remaining publicly neutral regarding the views being debated—a technique commonly styled ‘teaching the debate.’ This paper seeks to survey evidence from the literature in social psychology that suggests teaching the debate naturally lends itself to student skepticism toward the philosophical views presented. In contrast, research suggests that presenting one’s own views alongside teaching the debate in question—or ‘engaging the debate’—can effectively avoid eliciting skeptical attitudes among students without sacrificing desirable pedagogical outcomes. Thus, there are good reasons to engage philosophical debates as an educator, not merely teach them.

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